The Court was hearing a petition raising concerns over whether sufficient facilities are in place to ensure COVID-19 protocol during vote counting at the Karur constituency, where about 77 candidates are contesting the elections,
A visibly upset Madras High Court bench led by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy orally remarked on Monday that the Election Commission was “singularly responsible” for the second of COVID-19 that has gripped the country and said that its officers should be booked on murder charges
The Court was hearing a petition raising concerns over whether sufficient facilities are in place to ensure COVID-19 protocol during vote counting at the Karur constituency, where about 77 candidates are contesting the elections, reported Bar and Bench.
During the proceedings, Chief Justice Banerjee slammed the Election Commission and its failure to act against political parties who were openly violating COVID-19 protocols.
“You are the only institution that is responsible for the situation today. No action against political parties taking rallies despite every order of the Court. Your election commission should be put up on murder charges probably!”
-Chief Justice BANerjee, MADRAS HC
“Despite repeated orders of this court going on like a broken record at the foot of at least every election petition entertained that COVID protocol ought to be maintained during the campaign time the significance of adhering to such protocol may have been lost on the Election Commission going by the puerile silence on the part of the Commission as campaigns and rallies were conducted without distancing norms being maintained and in wanton disregard of the other items of the protocol.” said the order by Madras HC
Adv. Niranjan Rajagopalan, standing counsel for the EC assured the Court that COVID-19 safety measures are being put in place. The Chief Justice, in a stern reply, said “Were you on another planet when political rallies were being held?”
Tamil Nadu is one of the states that went to polls on April 6 this year. The High Court also warned that it will stop counting on May 2, which is when the results are to be declared for elections in five states and one Union Territory if the Election Commission does not put in place a proper plan to ensure COVID-19 norms are followed.
“The situation now is of survival and protection. Everything else comes next,” the Chief Justice said.
The High Court has directed the Election Commission to hold a consultation with the State Health Secretary and place on record a plan to enforce COVID-19 protocol on counting day by April 30. The matter has been posted for May 30
Notably, this isn’t the first instance of the judiciary pulling up concerned authorities for the dire state of the country, apathy towards the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and asked them to draw up a plan to contain COVID-19
Tamil Nadu on Sunday reported over 15000 cases and 82 deaths in the last 24 hours.